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Morsel Combat and Meals from the Heartland

Fighting Hunger is Everyone’s Business

The various leadership development classes put on by Greater Des Moines area chambers of commerce always have a class project that makes a contribution to the community. But do you know how many of these programs have made a lasting impact?

Morsel Combat

The West Des Moines Leadership Academy Class of 2012 decided to address the problem of hunger – one that affects millions of people across the globe. Following the example of popular television cooking competitions, with a play on words from the name of a popular video game, they created Morsel Combat. West Banker Kinsey Bodensteiner was a member of the class and West Bank was a sponsor.

“Morsel Combat was a very rewarding event to plan with my fellow 2012 West Des Moines Leadership Academy Classmates,” says Bodensteiner.  “It took months of planning and hard work as a class which taught us a lot about teamwork. The fact that our hard work turned into a remarkable night providing an evening with great food, fun entertainment, and friendly competition among local chefs all while supporting Meals from the Heartland and their great mission to alleviate life-threatening hunger made it all worthwhile.” 

The event featured a cast of local chefs from top restaurants competing in a challenge to create delicious and healthy entrees. Attendees mingled and listened to the music of a local band while visiting each tasting station to savor small-plate versions of each chef’s creations. They could then meet the chefs and vote on their favorite dish for the Peoples’ Choice Award. A panel of local celebrity judges selected the winner of the Top Chef Award.

A Big Success

The first Morsel Combat raised $50,000 through sponsorships and ticket sales for Meals from the Heartland. Proceeds were enough to fill truck load of 250,000 packaged meals.

The event was such a success, that the class set up a 501(c)3 organization so that it could continue. Events have been held around the state every year since. It is rare for these class projects to continue past the first year.

Meals from the Heartland

Meals from the Heartland regularly organizes volunteers to pack bags of ingredients for nutritious meals fortified with vegetables, vitamins, and minerals that can be prepared simply. Many of these meals are served at schools in underdeveloped countries around the world, too often the only meal the children get all day.  Rice and soy-based meals are distributed mainly in other countries with mac and cheese meals and a few other regional blends being distributed in the United States.

West Bank Support

Over the years, 50,000 meals have been funded with $10,000 in grants from the West Bancorporation Foundation.  West Bank also funded another 10,000 meals through $2,000 in sponsorships for Morsel Combat. Since Meals from the Heartland was founded in 2008, West Bankers have volunteered over 200 hours to pack meals or staff Morsel Combat events.

This year, the 501(c)3 has been dissolved and Meals from the Heartland has taken ownership of the Morsel Combat event.  Tracy Schmidt, representing the board of directors of Meals from the Heartland presented West Bank with a plaque recognizing our continued support of the program.


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